Resting the Creative Mind (And Allowing More Inspiration) – EP 290

How do you decide when to take a break? Is rest a priority in your art practice? A lack of rest can lead to a lack of creativity and inspiration in your studio! On this episode, I’m going to talk about the importance of rest, why we stop ourselves from getting it, and how consistent rest creates our best work.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:19] Breaking the power of the infinite list
  • [3:56] Deciding when enough is enough and the lie of “shoulds”
  • [13:24] How to stop fighting with reality, boost your creativity, and actually rest
  • [20:14] The mental roadblocks to rest and why it’s not procrastination

Differentiating between SHOULD and COULD

Everyone has an infinite to-do list. There are ALWAYS things that we could be doing. But to paraphrase the words of Dr. Ian Malcom from the classic film Jurassic Park: We are so preoccupied with whether we could that we don’t stop to think if we should. We can always paint more, clean more, see more people, answer more emails…more, more, more. When we build our infinite to-do lists off of assumptions and gut reactions, we never make the important distinction between could and should. We COULD do an endless amount of things, but we SHOULD get rest and recharge our creativity. We have to decide when enough working is enough. We have to draw a line in the sand and prioritize our rest, knowing that taking breaks is a part of the creative process and not a hindrance.

Go all in

One of the main reasons artists don’t get the rest we need is that we can’t commit to it. Even if we manage to take a break, we allow our unmanaged minds to occupy every space of it, and we never actually relax. If rest isn’t a priority, we open the door to all of the “false shoulds”. We spend every second we’re supposed to enjoy ourselves worrying about what we think we should be doing. You need to be able to go to a beautiful place and enjoy it without feeling guilty that you didn’t paint it. You could be in the most beautiful place in the world and block yourself from enjoying the experience because you’re telling yourself you should be experiencing it differently. The bottom line is this: Be as present when you’re resting as you are when you’re working because these are the moments that refuel our creativity if we let them.

You deserve rest

A sneakier rest thief is the idea that we don’t actually deserve it. We think that because we’re not where we want to be with a particular painting or our practice as a whole, we have to work ourselves past the point of growth and genuine productivity. The very idea of taking a break feels awful because we confuse our progress with our worth. It’s not the break that is making you feel awful. It’s the thought that somehow you don’t deserve it. Or that it’s going to make you further behind. Or that it’s not warranted, necessary, or efficient. All of these thoughts are where the bad feelings about yourself and your art come from. Self-care is taking care of your art practice. Don’t let anyone tell you differently, especially your own mind.

Resources Mentioned on this episode

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